How We Test

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Joshua Zyber  |  Dec 14, 2011  |  1 comments
Those of us who’ve spent a lot of time reviewing movies on video discs (from Blu-ray to DVD and, for some of us, even back to Laserdisc) understand that the process involves its share of both objective and subjective criteria. The exact balance varies depending on the content under review. Every movie—and every disc—is unique. Nonetheless, certain rules and standards hold true in most circumstances. While Blu-ray Discs provide vastly better quality than DVDs, and we in turn have gotten a lot savvier over the years in detecting the nuances of what makes a good or bad video image, the fundamental process has remained unchanged in the transition from standard definition to high definition. That is, until now. The introduction of 3D has thrown things for a pretty big loop. The more 3D content I’ve watched (on Blu-ray or other sources), the more questions I have about exactly how 3D should be evaluated. It turns out that reviewing 3D is a lot trickier than reviewing standard 2D.
Mark J. Peterson  |  Dec 09, 2011  |  0 comments
We often get letters at Home Theater asking about our lab tests for audio products and why we perform them. In the simplist terms, our lab trials serve two key functions. The first is to warn you, the consumer, about any false or misleading claims that manufacturers might make about the performance of their products. The second is to add objective insights to the reviewer’s subjective observations about the sound of a product, and most important, create verifiable criteria on which to compare similar products. Our goal is to provide the most pertinent audio technical information and present the data in a consistent manner over time that allows for easy comparison, even over a wide range of model sizes and prices and over the span of many years. Here’s how we condense a day’s worth of measurement data into a few salient points in what we call the Audio Measurement Box.
HT Staff  |  Apr 27, 2008  |  0 comments
As you can see in the box below, we have completely revamped our video-measurements box. Gone are the plain, boring, and hard-to-understand Excel-based charts. In their place are shiny, easy-to-understand, colorful graphs. Yep, party like it’s 1994.
HT Staff  |  Mar 24, 2008  |  0 comments
Stepping it up, again.

In an ongoing effort to present the most comprehensive and accurate measurements possible, we’re revamping our video measurements and adding new test gear. In this first installment, I’ll look at the new gear. Next month, I’ll dive into a whole new measurement box, with several new measurements.

Steve Faber  |  Oct 01, 2007  |  2 comments
Set up your video display to get a great picture.
Mike Wood  |  Jan 31, 2001  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2001  |  0 comments
In the continuing saga to explain our measurements charts, senior technical editor Mike Wood explores ground control for your home theater: the preamp/processor.

Launching the space shuttle requires the actions of thousands of control systems and hundreds of people all directed by, ultimately, one person. Technicians sit in front of dozens of monitors, checking systems, subsystems, weather patterns, and so on—all to make sure that, when the chief gives the order, the big hunk of steel sitting on the launch pad is able to take off without a glitch. You may not be igniting hundreds of thousands of pounds of rocket fuel when you press play on your DVD-player remote, but you are trying to launch your home theater system, and you usually want it to happen without too many hang-ups. The main component that controls this process is the pre/pro, or preamp/ processor. This is the subject of our latest Boot Camp in the series explaining the technical measurements that accompany our product reviews.

Mike Wood  |  Jan 18, 2001  |  First Published: Jan 19, 2001  |  0 comments
In part three of our series explaining our technical measurements, senior technical editor Mike Wood takes on the amplifier—more specifically, the receiver and the amplifier.

A. A dedicated multichannel amplifier doesn't have the frills of a receiver but likely offers better performance.
Mike Wood  |  Nov 29, 2000  |  First Published: Nov 30, 2000  |  1 comments
Last month, we explained our speaker measurements. Now, senior technical editor Mike Wood tackles the intricacies of video-display measurements.

It's only fitting that our video measurements be displayed in an obscure, almost-illegible triangle. Three-sided geometric shapes have always been somewhat mysterious objects, implying power or fear. Our measurements can do both. In this, our second attempt to explain to you, our faithful readers, what the ancillary boxes labeled "HT Labs Measures" mean, we'll discuss what our detractors call the triangle of death, why we use it in our display measurements, and what it means to you.

Mike Wood  |  Oct 27, 2000  |  First Published: Oct 28, 2000  |  0 comments
Wondering what those confusing charts in our gear reviews are really telling you about a product? Just ask senior technical editor Mike Wood. This month, he explains speaker measurements.

Unless you're looking at a powered speaker (with built-in amplification), the power-handling rating (which is often incorrectly referred to as the number of watts a speaker has) will tell you little about how the speaker integrates into your system, let alone how it sounds. This isn't to say that the spec is useless. After all, some people like to play music really loud—I'm talking head-near-the-speaker-stack-at-a-rock-concert loud. In those rare cases, this specification may be useful. However, for the rest of us, this is probably the least necessary information, even though it's usually the most common question we get about speakers.